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come “the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. i. 3; John xvii. 24; Col. i. 17.)

The earth no sooner begins to be peopled after the flood than they set about building the Tower of Babel : “Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad” (Gen. xi. 4). Their tower is also generally believed to have been for idolatrous worship :

whose top unto heaven.' Their intention was defeated by the Lord confounding their language, and “they left off to build the city.” They spake one language, and sought to make themselves a name. In like manner, the Christian's first danger is that of thinking his own to be the only church; of knowing but of one mode of expressing the truth ; and of exalting, and even idolizing, the body of men with whom he acts : and so Babel has given its name to an idolatrous, exclusive, monopolizing church. To frustrate this monopoly, and cure this idolatry, God makes men call the same things by different names ; and one community divides into several; each needing the forbearance of the rest, and therefore each practising mutual forbearance: and their scattering diffuses more widely that truth which is common to them all. At Babel, too, in Nimrod, began the first kingdom upon the earth ; growing out of the same spirit of ambition and self-aggrandisement in secular things; and which was not broken down by God, because he meant to use it as his instrument, either to protect the church, to scourge it, or to avenge it, as he might see fit.

Having by the confusion of Babel been taught the lesson, that the true church is not to be found in one form only, nor to be sought for in forms and modes of expression ; we are prepared for learning where it is to be found, and to receive the great doctrine of election-the cardinal point in a believer's experiencethe foundation of all the Christian hopes and promises--the seed of everlasting life. This doctrine is taught in the call of Abram ; a fact which holds a place of the greatest importance in the history of the world, as the doctrine it illustrates and typifies does in the experience of the believer. Till this time all mankind are to be regarded as one church and family, having amongst them the true religion, as we know from the instance of Melchizedek; but apparently common to all the nations, as the Book of Job, the true faith in the discourses of his friends, and traces of it in the histories of Abimelech and Pharaoh (Gen. xx. xii.), lead us to infer. At this time, however, a difference begins (Gen. xii.): “ Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” Here is election strictly personal, irrespective of country, kindred, or father; invisible, unaccompanied by outward sign, resting only on the word of God: The LORD HAD SAID it. Abram

obeyed, and went out, not knowing whither he went; and sojourned in the land of promise (not of possession), as in a strange country ; dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise : for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. xi. 8—10). The parallel is drawn to our hands in the same Epistle; “ For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. xiii. 14): Ye are come to mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven (Heb. xii. 22). All these we are come to in the realizing apprehension of true faith, “the substance of things hoped for;" though we wait till the first resurrection for their open manifestation and possession. Thus Abram acted out the doctrine of election, assured in the promise “ that he should be heir of the world” (Rom. iv. 13): of a possession not only not seen as yet, but not to be manifested till the new dispensation is brought in at the resurrection, when the New Jerusalem cometh down from heaven. (Rev. xxi.; Isa. Ixv.) To Abram it was further promised :“ I will make of thee a great nation” (Gen. xii. 3). And after he came into Canaan, “ All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever : and I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth. Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee” (Gen. xiii. 16). Countless posterity, and the personal possession of the land, here promised to Abram, were believed by him with a full assurance of faith ; and he considered these blessings as already certainly his-for the unchangeable God had promised them—though there was then no apparent sign or likelihood of their accomplishment. We learn from this example in “ the father of the faithful,” that the assurance of the elect is an assurance of faith, not of possession ; and that it needs no signs or evidences to rest upon, but simply the word of God.

The meeting with Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God, who brought forth bread and wine, blessed the victorious patriarch, and to whom Abram gave tithes of all (Gen. xiv. 18— 20), is full of most important instruction, which the limits and scope of this paper prevent us from drawing out. Suffice it for the present to say, that this historic fact obviously typifies the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body and blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine ;'that the bare assurance of election, and the “ first principles of the oracles of God," as "repentance from dead works, and faith towards God” (Heb. v. 12; vi. 1), will not suffice, but we must

go on unto perfection;"—that we have now"a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek, who is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them....even the Son of God who is con

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secrated for evermore” (Heb. vii. 25—28);—and that, as have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. viii. 1), “until the Lord shall make his enemies his footstool (Psalm cx. 1), so “ unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time” (Heb. ix. 28), and “ shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be a Priest on his throne" (Zech. vi. 13); “Priest of the Most High God, King of Salem, Prince of Peace :” “ of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with justice and with judgment, from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isai. ix. 7.)

After all these things Abram is still kept waiting for the accomplishment of the promise, and said to the Lord, “ Behold, to me thou hast given no seed.” He is answered by a repetition of the promise," so shall thy seed be:“ And he believed in the Lord ; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Gen. xv. 3—6.) These promises, thus reiterated to Abram, may teach us that we need not look for outward evidences of the accomplishment of God's purpose, but that his word alone is sufficient ground for the fullest assurance of faith. Abram's faith being thus demonstrated, he next receives that marvellous revelation recorded in Gen. xv. 7-21, with the time and circumstances of its accomplishment. It begins, “ I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?The sacrifice ensues. “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety, that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years....and thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.” Abram's only present inheritance, therefore, was a sepulchre; and even this he had to purchase of the sons of Heth (Gen. xxiii.); but yet we know that he looked for a city (Heb. xi. 10), though he might not know the exact manner how it would be brought about, exercising still the same full faith as before; a faith which was the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We learn from hence the important lesson, that faith in the promise prepares for a disclosure of the time and mode of its accomplishment, and thus calls for another act of faith. So that the understanding of promises given is at the same time a reward for previous faith, and a fresh call for its exercise in a higher kind ; shewing that every Christian duty is progressive, from faith to faith, from grace to grace. And now in the promises to Abram there is an amplitude and enlargement; for believing which there was required faith of a higher kind than

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any we have yet considered. It was contained briefly in the primal promise (xii. 3), which concluded thus: “ And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed ;" since which it had not been repeated. But now Abram's faith was tried, by being called to believe, not only without evidences, but against all signs and probabilities; for Abram was ninety years old and nine (Gen. xvii. 1), as good as dead (Heb. xi. 12); and Sarai was ninety years old, “ past age” (Heb. xi. 11). God, knowing that Abram's faith would stand this test, now regathers all the promises, and gives them perpetuity, which they had not before, saying, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect..and thou shalt be a father of many nations..and I will establish my covenant with thee for an everlasting covenant.. and I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” This is obviously the most important era in the history of Abram; the point from whence his life takes a new aspect; becoming from this time partaker, as it were, of the counsels of God (xviii. 17); “ the friend of God” (James ii. 23; Isai. xli. 8). The change is marked by two outward signs; by the institution of circumcision, and by alteration in the names of Abram and Sarai. Sarai means my princess: the I () being changed into H (17) may give the name an objective signification, making it princess-like or princely. Abram means exalted father: so the H (17) inserted in his name may give it objectiveness, and then the final M (D) might be considered as the pronoun plural: Abram being an exalted father to his literal seed ; Abraham being the exalted father of them, of the many nations who shall constitute his spiritual seed; “ not only that which is of the law, but that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Rom. iv. 16). The idea meant to be conveyed in both the changes is indisputably that of doing away the restricted personal signification of the names, and enlarging them henceforth into generic terms, pointing to the object of bope for all mankind*. Till this time the promises had been personal; “ I will

I make of thee a great nation :” they now become general, extending to all the spiritual seed; “I will make nations of thee; and kings shall come out of thee..she shall be a mother of nations ; kings of people shall be of her.” Now also the covenant is first called “everlasting :" the Lord promises, “ I will be their God ;" and from this covenant allows HIMSELF to be called, « The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;" linking them on as it were to the eternity of his own

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The Jewish fancy, that the it is taken from the Sacred Name ,717, we totally deny and reject.

being. At this point, in the Christian parallel, the belief of the Gospel of the kingdom properly comes in; a change in the experience of a believer as great as that in the history of Abraham. The faith which respects personal salvation must precede that enlarged faith which receives the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but the faith which stops short at those doctrines which are popularly called necessary to salvation, and refuses to listen to the other doctrines of Scripture, may perhaps be the faith of Abram, but is not the faith of Abraham ; may perhaps have the blessings of Ishmael, but stops short of the child of joy, the Isaac. Circumcision, the sign of continued election in the seed of Abraham, has no place whatever in the Christian dispensation; for every thing it denoted is already included in baptism : wherefore it is vain to look for its parallel in the believer's life. It was given to Abraham at this time, because the promises were now enlarged to the spiritual seed, and in order that he might still continue a true type of the election, by this token of the personal and special covenant, for the possession of the land, which God made with Abraham and his literal seed. (See No. II. p. 220.) Accordingly, in the Apostle's time circumcision .

p had become the common name for the national Israel : “ The Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision unto Peter” (Gal. ii. 7); “ Circumcision and Gentiles(ver. 8): see also Acts x. 45 ; xi. 2; Col. iv. 11; Tit. i. 10. And it is for this reason especially that Paul declares to the Galatians, “ If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing ” (v.2): “ For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (vi. 15). Circumcision is therefore the sign of the national covenant, for the inheritance of the land, to be fulfilled to the literal Israel in the earthly Jerusalem (Jer. xxxi. 31–40; xxxii. 39; Ezek. xi. 17-19), at the same time when the spiritual Israel, the regeneration, receive their inheritance in “ the heavenly Jerusalem,"_" the kingdom which cannot be moved,"

“ (Heb. xii. 22-28); “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. iii. 13).

Before the accomplishment of the promise, in the birth of Isaac, Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed; and when the Lord is about to execute his vengeance, he says, “ Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” and proceeds forthwith to declare his purpose to Abraham, to admit Abraham's expostulation, and to demonstrate to him that the wickedness of that people had become unbearably great. The destruction of these cities which follows, is made throughout all Scripture the standing type of that tremendous day of the Lord, in which all the apostate nations, and especially Babylon, shall be destroyed, preparatory to the reign of Christ, and accompanying his second

VOL. 11.--NOJ.

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